NITR marks progress on food category vision with TRBusiness site takeover

By Faye Bartle |

NITR sees chocolate and confectionery as a driving force in the food category, as it continues to develop in travel retail.

Nestlé ITR (NITR) is celebrating positive progress on its ambition to transform food, including confectionery, into the number one most purchased category in global travel retail (GTR) with this week’s eye-catching site takeover of leading duty free and travel retail (DF&TR) news website

The food category is showing solid incremental growth, according to m1nd-set research. A special glimpse of the data, which was revealed in full to TR Consumer Forum delegates in Vienna in June as part of a package worth six figures in value, if independently commissioned (stakeholders can only unlock the complete insight packages by attending – the next edition of the event will take place in June 2024) shows that confectionery has recovered its position as the joint most purchased category in the channel, alongside perfume.

Furthermore, the research reveals that food (non-confectionery) and vitamins is the fastest-growing category in GTR, gaining 6% in Q1 2023 versus 2021, making it the sixth most purchased category along with clothing and accessories.

As the industry turns its attention to engaging the fast-growing Gen Z segment, which will represent the largest segment of travellers by 2028, another key insight to note is that food (including confectionery) holds the greatest appeal to Gen Z, compared to other categories. It also appeals strongly to the fast-growing millennial segment.

Unlocking the potential of food in travel retail

Nestlé first presented its detailed strategy for unlocking the potential of food to retail partners at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes in October 2022.

Nestlé ITR GM Stewart Dryburgh pointed to the scale of the wider food category’s untapped potential, and how it could be a significant growth driver for the channel.

READ MORE: Nestlé ITR details strategy to ‘unlock the potential of food’ in travel retail

Prior to Covid-19, travel retail was largely focussed on fine food and confectionery. However, NITR’s travel retail specific research demonstrated how there is room for growth in other packaged food categories, such as coffee, tea, biscuits and the wellness sector.

m1nd-set research

m1nd-set research revealed at the 2023 TR Consumer Forum highlights food and vitamins as a fast-growing category in travel retail.

The research showed that nearly half of all travel retail consumers would be interested in purchasing vitamins, minerals and health supplements (VMHS) in the channel.

At this year’s TFWA World Exhibition, the company is set to discuss with its retail partners suggested next steps to further accelerate growth through portfolio expansion and the creation of a “motivating food ‘experience’” that will leverage the “unique ability of food to drive footfall and conversion”.

Chocolate and confectionery key category drivers

NITR believes chocolate and confectionery will continue to be the driving force within the category, which is now back to pre-Covid purchase levels and is the most purchased category by Gen Z travellers.

“This is splendid news for all confectionery suppliers,” said Dryburgh. “Confectionery is core to the food proposition and we at Nestlé ITR have and will continue to focus on offering travellers a portfolio to meet all consumer need states based on our iconic brands KitKat, Smarties, and Nestlé Swiss, along with regional favourites such as After Eight and Quality Street.”

Smarties and KitKat

Left: The Smarties Cool Creatures set is a TREX.  Right: KitKat Lotus Biscoff Snacking Bag.

Continued Dryburg: “Key to the success is meeting the existing and emerging consumer demands – these increasingly centre on the requirement for products with a sustainable, ethical and traceable background; 71% of travellers say it impacts their decision to purchase and  it increasingly central to our retailers’ CSR policies and objectives.

“In GTR, for example, we’re now offering a plant-based KitKat Vegan, all our Smarties portfolio has now switched to 100% recyclable paper packaging while Quality Street is also transitioning to recyclable, FSC-certified paper packaging.”

Tapping into consumer demand for coffee and wellbeing products

In response to research showing that 84% of travellers are likely to buy coffee in travel retail, Nestlé ITR has introduced the Nescafé Roastery collection into the market.

READ MORE: Nestlé activates coffee category ambitions with roll-out at key airports

With the Middle East seen as a particularly strong target market, the launch was supported by an impactful combined out-of-home (OOH) and digital media campaign, covering the full boutique network at Dubai International Airport, as well as bolstering pre-trip awareness, alongside in-trip conversions.

Digital media campaigns also supported pre-trip awareness and in-trip conversions for Qatar Duty Free shoppers during the FIFA World Cup.

More recently, Nestlé ITR has introduced its Azera barista-style collection into GTR to appeal to a younger audience.

NITR mind, body, soul

 The Solgar brand of vitamins and supplements have been introduced into travel retail in partnership with Dufry.

Another powerful move has been the introduction of Nestlé ITR’s Solgar brand into travel retail in partnership with Dufry.

READ MORE: Nestlé and Dufry launch Solgar wellness range at Athens and Zurich

Following an initial six-month trial in Athens and Zurich airports, it’s expected that the range will expand into further locations during the second half of 2023.

With the global wellness market valued by McKinsey at more than US$1.5 trillion with annual growth of 5 to 10 percent (in a report released in 2021), it’s easy to understand why Nestlé has identified Wellbeing (Vitamins, Minerals, Herbals and Supplements) as a promising new category to leverage in travel retail.

“Dufry was also exploring this area and so the strategic synergy for us to work together was obvious,” said Dryburgh. “Initial results from the trial locations in Zurich and Athens have been really positive and there is a lot of enthusiasm from our other retail partners to bring VMHS into their locations.

“The expertise of Nestlé Health Science and its portfolio of leading global brands including Solgar, Nature’s Bounty, Vital Proteins and Nunn has been invaluable to enabling us to access this exciting opportunity to grow the category for all stakeholders.”

NITR wellness

The Solgar range for travel retail includes best-sellers, such as the award-winning multivitamin Formula VM-2000 and the trademarked advanced formula Ester C Plus Immune Complex.

For travel retail, the initial Solgar range has been selected to meet the needs of the travelling consumer, with products to support immunity, energy, sleep, and daily wellbeing.

Working in close collaboration with Dufry, merchandising has been created to highlight differing need-states, making it easy for consumers to navigate – all with the help of a digital product selector tool that has been built into the merchandising unit.

The launches are being supported by impactful activations designed to attract and engage travellers, complemented by a variety of high-profile traditional and digital media initiatives.

Nestlé ITR’s strategy to build food into the number one most purchased category is being delivered through the VERSE model: Value, Engagement, Regeneration, Sense of Place and Execution.

“Our key priority is to continue driving growth across travel retail within the wider food category across travel retail, recruiting new consumers in the process,” summarised Dryburgh.

“Our mission is to build food into the most purchased category within travel retail through the VERSE model.

“We want to partner with retailers to reimagine the food offer in their stores through offering a wider and more prominent food offer and growing the category for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

READ MORE: TRBusiness Shorts: Aura Sanchez, Global Head of Marketing, Nestlé ITR


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